A Beginner’s Guide to Popular Types of Yoga
Many potential yoga students eagerly searched their local gym for class schedules only to be baffled by the variety of different types of yoga out there. Actually these types of yoga are made up of the same postures or poses, they use them in different ways to achieve specific goals. Here’s a guide to the most popular styles of yoga, so you can find the one you are looking for. These are more likely to be taught in your gym and have DVD teachings available.
We’ll start with two very general terms, each of which describes a variety of other, more specific types:
Hatha – These types of yoga are especially good for beginners who are just learning the basic poses. They are usually soft, slow-paced and with very relaxing music.
Vinyasa: These types of yoga are physical movements synchronized with the breath. A Vinyasa class would normally begin with vigorous “Greetings to the Sun” as a warm-up. These combine physical movement with breathing. More vigorous stretching movements are performed towards the end of the class.
As we look at the more specific types of yoga, you will see that many are named after the masters who invented them:
Kundalini: This type of Vinyasa yoga uses rapid, repeated movements rather than long positions. There may even be some chants or call-and-response techniques used during class. Kundalini maintains breath control during the performance of the pose as essential. The expected result is the energy that moves from the lower body to the upper body.
Bikram / Hot – This is generally known as “Hot Yoga” and was started by Bikram Choudhury. In its full version it is a series of 26 movements, but not all of them are used in all classes. As the name implies, it is practiced in a warm room, around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows for a cleansing sweat and muscle relaxation.
Ashtanga / Power – Ashtanga is intense, fast-flowing yoga and is physically demanding. “Flow” is a term used to describe how long you hold a move and then move on to the next move. In true Ashtanga yoga, the same movements are always performed in the same order. “Power yoga” is something that has been derived from Ashtanga. It will have the same flow, but not necessarily the same set of strict poses. Both are often used for weight loss.
Iyengar – Named after the teacher, Yogi BKS Iyengar, Iyengar yoga pays special attention to proper body alignment. The flow of Iyengar yoga is slow, emphasizes long holds, and often employs various accessories, such as blankets, straps, and other items that help your body find the correct alignment for each position.
Anusara – This guy was founded by John Friend, who wanted to create a more joyful, open, and beneficial class for yoga students of all skill levels. Add the positive philosophy associated with Tantra to the emphasis on physical alignment that Iyengar espouses.
Jivamukti – Inspired by Ashtanga yoga, Jivamukti promotes chanting, meditation, and studies of the spiritual realm. These classes are mostly found in the US and they are quite physically challenging.
Sivananda – These yoga centers teach more than just yoga classes. Today there are more than 80 such centers around the world, and they were founded by a student of Swami Sivananda. Its five basic principles are: 1. Proper Exercise (Asana) 2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) 3. Proper Diet (Vegetarian) 4. Positive Thoughts and Meditation (Dhyana)
No matter what type of yoga you choose, always check with your doctor before starting a yoga or any other type of exercise regimen.